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ShakespeareÆs Coriolanus is often viewed by critics as being a notch above his four major tragedies (Macbeth, Hamlet, King Lear, and Othello). Such a view often stems from the perspective of the main character, Coriolanus. Many feel that CoriolanusÆ less than sympathetic character makes him less heroically tragic than say Hamlet or King Leader. However, if we look at AristotleÆs definition of the tragic hero, we see that Coriolanus is every bit as tragically heroic as the main characters in these four tragedies. AristotleÆs definition of the tragic hero embodies a hero who is noble, possesses a tragic flaw, undergoes a reversal of fortune caused by the tragic flaw, and recognizes his mistakes. Tartar (2002) argues that the best tragic plot, according to Aristotle, ômoves the hero from prosperity to misfortune, occasioned not by depravity, but by some great mistake he makesö (1). Hardly could a more accurate description be rendered of Coriolanus.

Primarily a political play that pits a dying way of patrician autocracy against plebian democracy, CoriolanusÆ titular hero is without equal in battle skills within ShakespeareÆs canon. He is likened to the ôarmö of Rome, and not without merit. Though he exhibits complete contempt for the commoners of Rome, he is delighted over the news that the Volscians are planning to attack for he lives for and is best at war. Before being named Coriolanus, he is called Caius Marcius and anticipates the battle against Rome. When the Volscians turn the battle their way, Marcius continues the fight single-handedly, inspiring the fleeing Romans to return. When the Romans win, Marcius, injured, continues to attack the Volscians outside of Rome and conquers Corioli alone. Coriolanus he is named, by his fellow soldiers. Later, when leading the Volscians, Cominius describes Coriolanus to the tribunes responsible for his exile: ôHe is their god. He leads them like a thing / Made by som...

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Coriolanus. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:49, December 06, 2021, from